Can Team Blue scale the MotoGP mountain this year?
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team introduced its new bike liveries and riders via special presentation on February 15, 2021. While the official announcement may be virtual, the current plan for the upcoming 2021 MotoGP season is not—and everyone up and down the paddock is hoping to keep it that way.
Did you know that 2021 is also Yamaha’s 60th anniversary in Grand Prix motorcycle racing? If you don’t know, now you know. To start this momentous year off right, Monster Yamaha brought out its 2021 team riders Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo for an official introduction.
Fans of the Yamaha MotoGP factory team have seen Viñales in premiere-class action on tracks around the world since 2017. Like most of us, his year in 2020 didn’t proceed under the best circumstances. Although he had a promising start to the season, trusty #12 could only finish sixth in the 2020 riders’ championship. He’s clearly hoping for a much better run in 2021.
Gallery: 2021 Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
Meanwhile, anyone who’s been following the trials and tribulations of the MotoGP paddock for a couple of years probably remembers that Fabio Quartararo signed on with Monster Energy Yamaha at the beginning of 2020. He continued racing with Yamaha’s satellite team for the remainder of the 2020 season, where he finished eighth overall—although he did also have a factory-spec YZR-M1 to use for the duration. The young racer unfortunately contracted COVID in December, 2020, which put him off training for a time. According to an Instagram post from February 10, he’s happily on the mend and back to his physical fitness routine, though.
Back when Quartararo signed up with Monster Energy Yamaha, it wasn’t clear whether existing Yamaha stalwart Valentino Rossi would continue racing in MotoGP after 2020. If the Doctor chose to continue, Yamaha promised to also provide him with a factory-spec YZR-M1 for the 2021 season, even though he’d be shifted to satellite team Petronas Yamaha SRT. In other words, if Rossi stayed, he and Quartararo would effectively be switching places for 2021. As it turns out, that’s how we’re going into the new season.
No premiere MotoGP team is complete with a competent test rider, of course. For 2021, that’s the role Cal Crutchlow will play. Like everyone else, his first opportunity to get seat time on the 2021 YZR-M1 will take place at the start of March, during the shakedown test at Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Here’s to a great 2021 season in MotoGP, both for Monster Energy Yamaha and the rest of the paddock.